With influencer marketing becoming increasingly important, I sought insight from Deloitte Digital’s Managing Director of Social, Content, and Influencer, Kenny Gold. Below is his insight on how to leverage influencers to drive growth.
Kimberly A. Whitler: How can a CMO implement an authentic and engaging influencer strategy that aligns with a brand’s ethos and creates lasting connections with customers?
Kenny Gold: Deloitte Digital thinks of “influencer talent” as creators. The right talent is so much more than just a follower count. They are unique, diverse content creators with an ear for what their community is looking to consume. It’s important for brands to develop a more personal relationship with talent, versus a transactional, inauthentic connection – this carries over to the consumer connection.
Also, as with any good content strategy, a brand’s influencer or creator strategy involves understanding the duality between your brand’s purpose and role in the lives of consumers, and how best to achieve its core objectives. A desire to focus on long-term opportunities versus of-the-moment trends is key to implementing an authentic and engaging influencer strategy. It may be hard, and the numbers might flounder early, but by having a long-term goal for growth, brands can create a lasting impact with their audience and sustain a following beyond one-off viral moments.
Whitler: What is needed in an influencer strategy in order to drive long-term customer loyalty while also attracting and engaging new audiences?
Gold: We find a loyalty-building and authentic influencer strategy contains three key activities: Listening. Identifying. Deploying.
- Listening to what your community is saying – understand their interests, what excites them or inspires them to engage, and try to paint the picture of what they might like to see from the creators. If done right, the creators become a part of the community, not just a paid stunt to boost numbers.
- Identifying the right talent based on what you’ve heard – we are living in an incredible time when it comes to diverse, original content creators. With the seismic shift in how we work due to COVID, people are spending more time at home concepting, creating, and connecting with their communities. This creates a massive opportunity for brands to not just go for the highest follower count, but rather the best content for their audience. By having a myriad of options to choose from, brands can take the responsible approach and find the talent that gives them the best chance to achieve their in-market goals. It also allows them to find the creators that best match the demographics of their audience.
- Deploying content into the market the right way – creators can achieve impressive engagement with their audiences when they are authentic. This is not a brand TV spot or a de-facto spokesperson; allow the creators to make what they know, guide them to align with your brand purpose and objectives, but don’t force them to be prescriptive. By allowing the talent to create in their own style, they will create a tighter connection with your audience.
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Whitler: How can a constantly evolving influencer strategy differentiate a brand from its competitors and secure a strong return on investment?
Gold: We emphasize the need for brands to listen to their audience because they will give you signals when messages are landing or floundering. These signals quickly become critical data for a brand and they are invaluable to informing any needed strategy shifts.
In fact, audience signals can also help to identify the right creator talent. It’s important to be fluid with a creator approach in order to connect with the right talent and effectively utilize budget.
While brands used to sign spokespeople for multi-year deals, it’s recommended to keep a budget available to sign creators for individual projects throughout the year. You will create a larger community of creators that you can tap into and it allows your brand the flexibility to evolve with the signals you are hearing from the community.
Having this variability and constantly evolving approach will help your brand connect with audiences more seamlessly and more often, which can be a big competitive differentiator.
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